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Path: Home | Publications | Technical Guidelines | Table of contents | Metadata creation/capture


Interoperability and service provision centres Working group

Technical Guidelines
for Digital Cultural Content Creation Programmes
Version 1.0: Revised 08 April 2004

This document has been developed on behalf of the Minerva Project by UKOLN, University of Bath, in association with MLA The Council for Museums, Libraries & Archives

cover of  handbook


6. Metadata creation/capture

Metadata can be defined literally as “data about data,” but the term is normally understood to mean structured data about resources that can be used to help support a wide range of operations on those resources.
A resource may be anything that has identity, and a resource may be dig­ital or non-digital. Operations might include, for example, disclosure and discovery, resource management (including rights management) and the long-term preservation of a resource. For a single resource different meta-data may be required to support these different functions.

6.1 The scope of the metadata

It may be necessary to provide metadata describing several classes of resource, including

  • the physicalobjectsdigitised;
  • the digital objects created during the digitisation process and stored as “digital masters”;
  • the digital objects derived from these “digital masters” for networked delivery to users;
  • new resources created using these digital objects;
  • collections of any of the above

6.2 Appropriate standards

Metadata is sometimes classified according to the functions it is intended to support. In practice, individual metadata schemas often support multiple functions and overlap the categories below.
The curatorial communities responsible for the management of dif­ferent types of resources have developed their own metadata stan­dards to support operations on those resources. The museum commu­nity has created the SPECTRUM and CDWA standards to support the management of museum objects; the archive community has devel­oped the ISAD(G), ISAAR(CPF) and EAD standards to provide for the administration and discovery of archival records; and the library com­munity uses the MARC family of standards to support the representa­tion and exchange of bibliographic metadata.
Project should display awareness of the requirements of community-/domain-specific metadata standards.
Projects should ensure that the metadata schema(s) adopted is (are) fully documented. This documentation should include detailed cataloguing guidelines listing the metadata elements to be used and describing how those elements are to be used to describe the types of resource created and managed by the project. Such guidelines are necessary even when a standard metadata schema is used in order to explain how that schema is to be applied in the specific context of the project.

SPECTRUM, the UK Museum Documentation Standard, 2nd Edition Getty Research Institute, Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA)
Available 2005-02-15

International Standard for Archival Description (General) (ISAD(G)). Second Edition.
Available 2005-02-15

International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families.
Available 2005-02-15

Encoded Archival Description (EAD)
Available 2005-02-15

Machine Readable Cataloguing (MARC): MARC 21
Available 2005-02-15

Online Archive of California Best Practice Guidelines for Digital Objects (OAC BPG DO), Version 1.0
Available 2005-02-15

Descriptive metadata

Descriptive metadata is used for discovery and interpretation of the digital object.
Projects should show understanding of the requirements for descrip­tive metadata for digital objects.
To support the discovery of their resources by a wide range of other applications and services, projects must capture and store sufficient descriptive metadata to be able to generate a metadata description for each item using the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set (DCMES) in its simple/unqualified form. The DCMES is a very simple descriptive metadata schema, developed by a cross-disciplinary initiative and designed to support the discovery of resources from across a range of domains. It defines fifteen elements to support simple cross-domain resource discovery: Title, Creator, Subject, Description, Publisher, Contributor, Date, Type, Format, Identifier, Source, Language, Relation, Coverage and Rights.
This requirement does not mean that only simple DC metadata should be recorded for each item: rather, the ability to provide simple DC metadata is the minimum requirement to support resource discovery. In practice, that simple DC metadata will probably be a subset of a richer set of item-level metadata.
To support discovery within the cultural heritage sector, projects should also consider providing a metadata description for each item conforming to the DC.Culture schema.
Projects should show awareness of any additional requirements for descriptive metadata, and may need to capture and store additional descriptive metadata to meet those requirements.

Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1
Available 2005-02-15

Available 2005-02-15

Using Dublin Core
Available 2005-02-15

Administrative metadata

Administrative metadata is used for managing the digital object and providing more information about its creation and any constraints governing its use. Thismight include:

  • Technical metadata, describing technical characteristics of a digital resource
  • Source metadata, describing the object from which the digital resource was produced
  • Digital provenance metadata, describing the history of the operations performed on a digital object since its creation/capture
  • Rights management metadata, describing copyright, use restrictions and license agreements that constrain the use of the resource.

Technical metadata includes information that can only be captured effectively as part of the digitisation process itself: for example, infor­mation about the nature of the source material, about the digitisation equipment used and its parameters (formats, compression types, etc.), and about the agents responsible for the digitisation process. It may be possible to generate some of this metadata from the digitisation software used.
There is, however, no single standard for this type of metadata. For images, a committee of the US National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has produced a draft data dictionary of technical metadata for digital still images. Projects should show understanding of the requirements for adminis­trative metadata for digital objects.
Projects must capture and store sufficient administrative metadata for the management of their digital resources.

NISO Z39.87-2002 AIIM 20-2002 Data Dictionary — Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images
Available 2005-02-15

Preservation metadata

A set of sixteen basic metadata elements to support preservation was published in 1998 by a Working Group on Preservation Issues of Metadata constituted by the Research Libraries Group (RLG).
The Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) is an attempt to provide a high-level framework for the development and comparison of digital archives. It provides both a functional model, that outlines the operations to be undertaken by an archive, and an information model, that describes the metadata required to support those operations.
Using the OAIS model as their framework, an OCLC/RLG working group on preservation metadata has developed proposals for two components of the OAIS information model directly relevant to preservation metadata (Content Information and Preservation Description Information).

RLG Working Group on Preservation Issues of Metadata
Available 2005-02-15

Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS)
Available 2005-02-15

Preservation Metadata and the OAIS Information Model: A Metadata Framework to Support the Preservation of Digital Objects
Available 2005-02-15

Preservation Metadata
Available 2005-02-15

Structural metadata

Structural metadata describes the logical or physical relationships between the parts of a compound object. For example, a physical book consists of a sequence of pages. The digitisation process may generate a number of separate digital resources, perhaps one image per page, but the fact that these resources form a sequence and that sequence constitutes a composite object is clearly essential to their use and interpretation.
The Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) provides an encoding format for descriptive, administrative and structural metada­ta, and is designed to support both the management of digital objects and the delivery and exchange of digital objects across systems.
The IMS Content Packaging Specification describes a means of describ­ing the structure of and organising composite learning resources.
Projects should show understanding of the requirements for structur­al metadata for digital resources, of the role of METS in “wrapping” metadata and digital objects, and of the role of IMS Content Packaging in the exchange of reusable learning resources.

Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS)
Available 2005-02-15

IMS Content Packaging
Available 2005-02-15

Collection-level description

A digital resource is created not in isolation but as part of a digital col­lection, and should be considered within the context of that collection and the development of the collection. Indeed, collections themselves are seen as components around which many different types of digital services might be constructed.
Collections should be described so that a user can discover important characteristics of the collection and so that collections can be inte­grated into the wider body of existing digital collections and into dig­ital services operating across these collections.
Projects should display awareness of initiatives to enhance the disclo­sure and discovery of collections, such as programme-, community-, sector- or domain-wide, national, or international inventories of digi­tisation activities and of digital cultural content.
Projects should contribute metadata to such services where appropri­ate.
Projects should provide collection-level descriptions using an appropri­ate metadata schema. Projects should display awareness of the Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP) Collection Description schema, the collection-level description schema defined by Minerva, and the emerg­ing Dublin Core Collection Description Application Profile.

RSLP Collection Description
Available 2005-02-15

Minerva: Deliverable D3.2: Inventories, discovery of digitised content & multilingual issues: Feasibility survey of the common platform
Available 2005-02-15

Dublin Core Collection Description Application Profile
Available 2005-02-15

Minerva: Deliverable D3.1: Inventories, discovery of digitised content & multilingual issues: Report analysing existing content
Available 2005-02-15

Collection Description Focus
Available 2005-02-15

Terminology standards

Effective transmission of the information conveyed in metadata records requires more than a shared understanding of the metadata schema in use and its constituent metadata elements. It also depends on establishing shared understanding of the terms used as values of those metadata elements, either by the adoption of common termi­nologies or by adopting different terminologies where the relation­ships between terms are clearly defined.
Projects should use recognised multilingual terminological sources to provide values for metadata elements where possible. Only if no standard terminology is available, local terminologies may be con­sidered. Where local terminologies are deployed, information about the terminology and its constituent terms and their meaning must be made publicly available.
The use of a terminology in metadata records, either standard or proj-ect-specific, must be indicated unambiguously in the metadata records.
Collection-level metadata records should make use of the terminolo­gies recommended for use with the Minerva collection-level descrip­tion schema.

Minerva: Deliverable D3.2: Inventories, discovery of digitised content & multilingual issues: Feasibility survey of the common platform
Available 2005-02-15



Copyright Minerva Project 2005-07, last revision 2005-07-11 edited by Minerva Editorial Board.
URL: www.minervaeurope.org/publications/technicalguidelines/metadata.htm